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Welcome to the GREEN Organic Garden Podcast. It is Saturday, July 18, 2020. And I have an awesome guest here.
He's not a gardener, but I think you're going to love his message and he has a new podcast. And if you heard my rant yesterday, you know, I'm like doubling down on podcasting and I'm just showing the connecting with other podcasters.
And I feel like if you're a listener, you're probably interested in connecting with other podcasters and learning about other great new shows. So here to talk to us today is Ron Kamen from the Awesome EarthKind Podcast. Welcome to the show, Ron.
It's great to be here, Jackie. Thanks so much.
All right. Well tell us about you and your new show and whatever you want to tell us.
Well, thank you so much. It's a little different from your normal shows. I've, I've had the pleasure of listening to a couple of them and you know, your folks are really involved in the interconnectedness of life and in particular in growing and the abundance that naturally surrounds us when we are in tune with nature. And it's great and it's wonderful and it's, it's so fantastic!
As a civilization, you know, we've kind of gotten away from a lot of different things. And one of the things that my career and my, my, my whole life work has been focused on is energy. And the reason for that is because we need energy to survive as a civilization, it powers everything we do.
It's powering the devices that people are listening to. It's our computers, it's our cars, it's our heating systems. It's our air conditioning systems. It's basically everything that's involved with. Civilization is really centered on energy. And most of that energy today comes from fossil fuels.
And those fossil fuels, as we know, are now saturating our environment to the point where we're getting to the point where extreme weather events are happening because we've disrupted so many natural systems.
And the question is, okay, so we all know where we are, the 7 billion of us.
But I don't think that's a really good option for the vast majority of 7 billion people. There are a few that might survive, but who really wants to go through that and see 99% of people just, you know, not survive and we can't survive as a civilization unless we make the transition to clean energy.
And I've been involved in energy and the environment for boy over three decades, I've been lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with all sorts of people in all different forms, everything from communities to governments and businesses and nonprofits, and working with people on taking the next step to have clean energy and to make this transition that we have to make.
If we want to survive as a society, you know, we're all in the midst and still getting through this worldwide COVID phenomenon that was a wake up call! Right?
And then it was, it's a wake up call to all of us about how short and fragile our lives are, how interconnected our lives are. And everyone in the world for the past three, four months now has been recognizing that, "Oh my gosh, you know, life is short and how are we going to survive as a society?"
My hope is that we will recognize how interconnected we are with each other, how interconnected we are and where we're reaching the limits of the planet and that we take the next step.
And the good news about that next step is as we look at these extreme weather events and we see the incredible power of nature in the air with hurricanes or tornadoes and storms in the water with floods and droughts and all different aspects of things in the earth with both a whole host of range of all the things that you guys know what's happening with the earth, and then all the extreme things that are happening, can happen with the earth, with earthquakes and volcanoes and all that power.
When you take a look at that air, water, earth and sun, that awesome power of nature that's around us.
And you look at on the one side, the destructive piece and how we've disrupted the balance of nature and all the things that are happening there. But then when you look and you realize that in that same power in those four forces of nature lies the answer and the key to our survival as a, as a civilization, as humanity, as everybody on earth.
And the great thing about earth kine, you and me and everybody on earth is that we humans have an incredible ability to adapt and evolve and innovate and conquer anything, any challenge that comes our way. So my real hope with all the things that are going on in society right now is that we recognize that, okay, we have to change. We can change. There is a way through this.
Let's find it myself as an individual, use another individual, our families, our friends, our communities, and as a planet, let's come together and make that transition. Because without that transition there, you know, we're looking at some very catastrophic consequences, but we can make the transition.
A thousand times more energy than we use a thousand times more energy than we need. The better news is that our human capabilities, our technology has evolved to the point where we can capture that energy and channel it into purposes and use it to power our:
that power and that energy is there. And we can tap into it. That technology is there.
So when you take a look at any aspect of this at the electricity, at the heating and cooling on the building side, and you look at the transportation side in almost every instance, you can find a way to save money while you're doing it too.
And if you wind up taking it collectively, and we look at all three electricity, heating, cooling, and transportation, you could save a lot of money. And if we all do it, we can save tons of money.
So that's what Awesome EarthKind is about. It's a podcast. I've worked
with people for three decades in various different forms. I focus primarily over my career with again, colleges, schools, nonprofits, government entities, municipalities businesses of all different sizes and shapes.
And this COVID piece just made me realize that, you know, I have a message. I think I have something hope in life that I want to share with normal everyday folks. And as podcasts came along with, with our mutual friends at EO fire entrepreneurs on fire, and it just ignited me.
So that's why I'm here.
And we'll be launching on August 6th. And the reason for August six, by the way, for those that it kind of rings a bell in the back of your mind is August 6th, 75 years ago was when humanity really entered the atomic age and we wiped out a hundred thousand people in Hiroshima, Hiroshima.
It was when humanity really became a force of nature.
And that's the whole thing is that all of us collectively, we really are forces of nature. We are awesome. We have incredible power, both individually and collectively.
We are humanity is the fifth element and that's what earth kind strives to project. Awesome EarthKind lets us say, "Hey, let's take the power of the air, the water, the earth, the sun, those four forces of nature and when you combine that with you and me, we aren't awesome.
And that fifth element EarthKind , that earth combined energy. We can do anything and we can make this transition and we can ex enter the next stage of our evolution. And we have to, for our kids' sake and all future generations.
So I was like, why aren't we doing that? Is that where you're like talking to people that have these solutions, like these tech people that have the energy, or like, how are like, what can listeners do to help change that?
Yeah. Great. And that's exactly what the podcast is about.
So what we're doing is we're setting in place first interviews that we'll be releasing every Monday and Thursday interviews with people that are doing amazing things. And I'll tell you about that in a second.
And then the second piece that we're doing is also setting up a community.
So once a week on Saturdays, we'll be answering people's questions, the we'll be dealing with their situations. And everybody has a little different situation for their personal life, right? You know, you live in Montana. I live in New York. People live in all different places around the country, all different scenarios around the world.
Some of us, all of us have taken some steps, right? Some of us have bought energy, efficient, light bulbs, great thing, right? Because instead of wasting 90% of the energy to create light with an incandescent light bulb.
So when you're touching an incandescent light bulb, you burn your hand. We've now made that transition to hopefully fluorescent or compact fluorescents are really the next stage, now today, our led light bulbs that lasts longer and that take most of the energy and use it to produce light as opposed to heat, which is why there's so much more efficient and they save money.
So we've taken all of us have taken different steps. When they drive a hybrid car, we may have done some things to get a more efficient oil burner. We may have a heat pump, and actually we'll talk about heat pumps in a bit, but there's a lot of different things that people can do that they don't quite know about.
So they don't understand what the opportunities are. They think a lot of times that it's too expensive for them to do it.
And what we're doing on those Saturday show is, are answering people's questions and just dealing with where they are and what they need and setting in place communities of support so that folks, wherever they are in this continuum from basic basic knowledge through, Hey, we've done everything except for a couple of things to be net zero in terms of energy consumption.
And for wholly powered by renewables. So there's this whole spectrum, and there's no judgment about where any individual is or where anybody is on the spectrum. We're all in different places.
We've all had our life experiences. We've all done what we could, but the idea behind Awesome EarthKind is to help everybody figure out, okay, this is where I am.
How do I do it? Where on it I am because where I am is a little bit different from where the person somewhere else is. So the goal is to set in place a community that can answer questions and help people take their next steps.
So to give you some examples, right?
So you mentioned at one point Earth Day, right? I think on one of your shows and one of the interviews is with Dennis Hayes. Dennis Hayes was the original coordinator of Earth Day. And then he went on to found the Earth Day Network and Earth Day is, you know, most people have heard of Earth Day now.
And Earth Day is the largest secular celebration in the world. It's celebrated on a hundred and in 180 different countries, it has a worldwide mass movement of people who are concerned and want to do something about sustaining life on the planet.
And we have an interview with Dennis Hayes, where he talks about some of the things that he's learned and some of the lessons that he's gotten.
And on the extreme end of the spectrum, Dennis built for his nonprofit foundation in Seattle, a 52,000 square foot office building Dan is a hundred percent renewable.
It is a hundred percent sustainable.
It generates actually more energy than the building users because they designed it well, they have natural daylighting. They have geothermal heating systems and they have solar. And the fascinating one other fascinating thing it's in Seattle, which has the least amount of sun of any of the 48 contiguous States. Right?
So it's the, it's a place with the least amount of sun. They told Dennis, he couldn't do it. It was impossible. Maybe a two story building, not the six story building, maybe a couple thousand square feet, not 50,000 square feet.
And yet it got done.
And it's those kinds of examples, every living from a residential. So we're talking to some folks, there's another individual. We'll be, we'll have those, an interviewee who has a little place in a little quarter acre in Virginia, right in Arlington Virginia.
So in a little littles, tiny space in Arlington Virginia, and yet there a hundred percent clean energy too. And not only are they sustainable with solar and heat pumps and electric vehicles, but they pay $34 a month for their heating, air conditioning, electricity and transportation bills, not bad.
So what can people do everything from a little step? It depends on where they're starting from to the largest steps of going solar and looking at the heating and cooling systems and looking at electric vehicles.
And we're going to be talking about all those technologies and all those opportunities, and then helping people customize solutions to their particular needs.
Does that help?
Yeah, because like, I'm just picturing myself standing. Like, I, it is so hard for me to buy a light bulb anymore. I stand in the aisles. I look in the I'm like, which one is it? They're all so ridiculously expensive, it seems. Although they probably last longer. And just, if I have that question about a light bulb, I can't even imagine it.
And like my brother got solar panels. Gosh, was it last summer? I can't remember when they finally got them, but like for years he was like, no, no, no. And then I don't know somebody came and knocked on their door and probably offered him a tax credit that he had to get there before the end of the year. And so I think that probably ended up having something to do with it,
but yeah, it just makes no sense to me why our country is still like not leading the war. I was like my biggest disappointment with Obama. I just that and what was the other one that he let the protestors in South Dakota get just, you know, he didn't stand up for the protesters in South Dakota, the water protectors.
But also I just was like, didn't they give you a Nobel prize. Cause you were going to go lead the world. And like, he should have been leading our country in green energy. And I know Congress didn't necessarily support him, but like, I dunno, like, I guess we need more podcasts like yours out there offering people simple solutions that they could do.
Like we would love to have a zero neutral house. And especially with like all these extreme storms, knocking out the power for, you know, our power was knocked out for a whole day, practically the spring, like over eight hours, we didn't have power and just, you know, think of the food that's going bad and things like that.
Yeah, no, you're exactly right Jackie, and you know, a few different things that you touched on. So one, there's a, there's a quote. I was a community organizer who was where I started my career, was working with people in communities and helping to empower them. And it wound up being on energy.
But one of the quotes that I thought was really powerful is
So if we expect our national international local, whatever leaders to do something, it's when the people stand up and say, this is what we want:
So I think it's really powerful and awesome and incredible that folks like you and everybody wants to do this and starts to do it in whatever little way, shape or fashion we can. And the goal of awesome earth kind is to help people become empowered, become enlightened, to know what they can do and to then take that next step for themselves.
It's too expensive for me that I can't afford it.
That it's, you know, I don't have the cash. I don't have the capital, et cetera, et cetera. And you know, in some ways that could be true.
The fascinating thing though, is that solar prices have come down so dramatically in the last 10 years in particular as the world has reached these technological innovations.
And when you take a look at the technology, I'll just talk about one of the, one of our guests talks about the technology, the innovation that we see all around us, that's that energy is following and solar is following as well.
And that's, you know, for instance, the smartphone, right, that we all have those smart phones that each of us now have for whatever, a couple hundred bucks or whatever cost us those 20 years ago when multimillion dollar super computers!
As a matter of fact, a little bit more than that, you couldn't even get that much computing power on the whole planet!
And it's now in a Palm of our hands! and that's exactly what happened.
That's a great example!
Isn't that great. Right.
And then the same thing is also true with cellular with cellular technology, right? Where it used to be.
We know when I was growing up, there was a landline that was all there was, you picked up the phone, you had to dial somebody, they had to have a connection. Everybody had a, had a landline phone and when wireless or cellular came along, everybody poo-pooed, it was like, nah, that's never going to happen.
Who's going to do that? It's too, too, too complicated. It's too expensive.
And the same is also true with internet, right? I mean, you know, there was no such thing as the internet when we were growing up, it wasn't there.
And now we have access to incredible amounts of information, sometimes too much information in different ways. But it's just fascinating how the technology is evolving and energy technology is doing the same thing.
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So with solar, it used to be, you had to put solar on the space where you had yours or entered your utility hooked up, right?
So you have electricity. You have solar on your roof is what most people think. That's the only place they think about putting it on their roof.
And they have to have capital to be able to buy that solar system.
And it's expensive.
Nice part is that they realize you could take advantage of tax credits and there's tax credits that help make it more affordable for. So for somebody like your brother, that may have been a good thing.
The other pieces in many States and many utility territories, there are incentives that the state or the utility will give you to go solar. So there's some additional cash incentives to do it. As the prices have come down, become more and more affordable. And then there's two other things that happened. And along the way, one is that third point is, have been investing in solar.
Now, even if you don't have the capital. So one way is, and one of the best ways is if you have some equity in your home, you get a home equity mortgage. And the nice thing about that is that, okay, so you get a home equity loan out of your house. You put it into solar.
What happens is now you have your energy system, hopefully supplying a hundred percent of your electricity.
If you expand that it could do your electricity, you could do your heating, it could do your transportation with electric vehicles. We'll talk about that in a moment. So you get the solar system, okay, you took some equity out of your house.
You got a tax credit for it that year, you got some incentives maybe from your utility or the state. And then what you also get is a tax write off because if you talk to your tax advisor and you could take advantage of the home equity interest and write down your taxes some more, now you've got the ability to actually get some additional benefit out of it.
So you could do a lease where you pay a monthly amount to over period of time. And that monthly amount that you're paying is less than what your electric bill would have been so now you're saving money that way.
That's the third way, and then the fourth way or something:
So just as you pay the utility company for how many kilowatt hours you consume, you can do the same thing with a solar company that puts the system in doesn't cost you any amount of money upfront.
They take the tax credit. So that's a that they own it. They maintain the system and you only pay them as it generates electricity.
And when you look at those prices, if you're a smart consumer, you'll find that you can save money compared to what you were paying the utility almost anywhere in the country.
So those are four things with sort of home ownerships and individual ownerships that people a lot of times don't know about.
Well, community solar is where there's a solar system somewhere in your community or in your utility territory. Usually that solar system is a bigger system, bigger than what you put on your house, but you take a piece of that.
And depending upon the solar company that you get involved with,
So that's another way to do things, right? Which people don't know about.
If you have some space that you could put it, you can put it in as a shed. You can build a shed. Maybe in the other side, you put it out there and put it as a car port. You could do that, put it in the ground someplace where you wouldn't mind having some shade. A lot of farmers now are integrating solar as part of their whole crop piece, where they grow certain shady kind of crops under the solar system, they do them in rows. They spread them out a little bit more. It's not just a field, just a solar.
So there's a lot of different alternatives that people haven't yet discovered, but I believe we all want to do it. And if we start taking a look at these options and figuring out which ones are the right ones for us, for us as individuals, we all can take that step.
We may or may not realize how awesome we are and what kind of, what kind of powers that we have. But I always suggest to people, look, take a look at your energy bills,
You're already spending that money! Alright, great. So that's your budget. That's what you're spending.
How can you then approach each of those sectors, electricity, heating and transportation, reduce your cost, reduce your carbon footprint and have an impact and feel better and create the next step for you?
So that's one of the things that we do with the Awesome EarthKind show is work with people to help them figure out what everybody, what they can do individually on any of those sectors to make a difference and save money and make an impact.
Wow! Well, there are a lot of options out there. I didn't know about it.
That's sort of it
People, I guess they come to your podcast now, but like where do they find out about things going on in their local community?
Yeah, so there's a lot of different ways. And you know, part of it depends on where you are and what the particular activities have been folks that are all around you. And again, everybody has a little custom situation for themselves, individually and their homes and their workplace and their schools and they're in their communities.
There's a national association, that'll help direct juice. S C I, a solar energy industries association. And then that'll drill down into the state and localities. And the nice thing about the association is that there's ethic guidelines.
So you know that if someone's a member there, you know, they have some ethics associated with them and they have the support of, and association in back of them. So that's, that's a good place to start.
If you want to take a look at solar, you can just do Google searches and see who's doing what. And one of the things, you know, as good consumers, we should always get multiple bids, right?
So, you know, that's a good thing, right? So if somebody convinces you that a, they got a great deal. That's wonderful. That's fantastic.
You should do it, but also get some other bids and take a look at different options for people about what the alternatives are.
The warranties that guarantees and back of them, all different aspects. And that's part of what we explore on the show as well. And on the Facebook live group is help people take a look and work through their particular situations.
Yeah, because I remember one of the big questions my brother was concerned with. It was like, who owned his roof when they redo it? Like there was one company that wanted to do it.
And there was something about like, then they own the roof, and there was like a certain amount of time. Like they, if they ever wanted to sell the house, there were like all these questions about that.
So I like that you've given us these resources about associations and places. You can get these answers and checking and getting several different bids, like really researching it.
Cause again, like I said, I remember my brother feeling really rushed, because there was like some time thing. I can't remember if it was a tax credit or what, I just remember him feeling rushed. And like he sent me the contracts to look at, but then I didn't even get to open them before, like the deal had to go through.
Yeah. I mean, that's definitely a big concern for people. So people don't know, you know, people, I, I think one of the biggest things is that people stop when they're uncertain. Right. And everybody's busy and we all have a lot going on.
It's a big investment and you're putting, if you're putting something on your roof and then people start talking about roof upkeep and who owns your roof and
Yep, exactly, exactly. So, you know, you want to be smart about it and you want to know what's going on with it. And there's a lot of different for information and your brother's case. Yep.
If a third party puts that on your roof and you have a, this is called a power purchase agreement. So it's sort of like you're paying the utility, but instead of paying the utility, you pay this solar company to put solar on your roof.
You pay them as the energy is generrated. So that's a good thing. You don't have to lay out any capital. You don't have to worry if the system's not working, because if it doesn't work, you don't have to pay them. You're only paying them for what it's generating. So that's a good part of it.
So you want to get a good company because since your roof, you don't want your roof to leak your roof leaks. You you're really in a really bad place, right? So you want to make sure you have a quality company doing a good installation. That's going to be solid and is lots of them.
There were millions of solar systems installed all across the United States now, and most people don't have a problem. There are some that do have a problem.
It is nice to see when I go through his neighborhood now, like there's tons of houses in his neighborhood that are definitely becoming more popular.
Exactly. And so, so that's one piece. And then the other question does become, and we actually have an interview scheduled with somebody who talks specifically about that.
Because if you wait until you go to close and then you find out there's a restriction because of the solar system, you're going to be pretty upset. So there's a couple things you can do. There's some really simple solutions that deal with those questions and make it happen.
Through hands on, "Hey, I got this question. What do I do? Because I'm in this situation, this is me. I'm here, et cetera," and help people customize solutions for themselves.
Well, you know, I love all this. This is so near and dear to my heart and Mike and I totally would love to go solar. So I am curious and we keep, he's always like key there's those people you should be like, he'll find an ad in the paper or something.
He's like, you should call. And then I don't make the call and we still keep going the way we're going. But yeah, we're totally interested in it. A
nd then my other big passion is electric cars. Like he's show frustrated when people who have money that don't buy electric cars and like can have that.
May we? Great. Okay. All right.
So when you take a look and you think about, you know, how,
Somewhere a third or more of the impact comes from those vehicles that we move ourselves around with. So just keep that in mind. Number one, number two, as I ask people, how much do you spend on fuel? How much do you spend on oil changes on transmission fluid, understand that stuff that you got to do with an internal combustion engine too much, right.
Way too much!
And internal combustion engine has 2000 moving parts. You've got to change the oil regularly. There's a lot of different issues that always pop up with them, et cetera, et cetera. Plus gasoline is always expensive. Okay, great. Well, let's talk about the other,
Oh, see, now that's where I'm going to argue. Like, I feel like gas should be $5 a gallon. And if gas was $5 a gallon, what our country would change in the right direction. Like I think it's personally ridiculous that we were paying $2 a gallon in 2020 for gas.
So don't disagree, but I'll just say, this is that for the average American gasoline prices already too high, they hate paying the gas companies. They hate supporting this monopoly oil companies that are raping them left and right.
Yeah. Well, I don't want the money to go to them! I want the extra $3 a gallon to go to building these sustainable energy, to promoting to solar development, to, you know, just changing our system.
Yup. And that's kind of part of the policy discussion that we can have, but what you find generally, and this was something that Dennis Hayes speaks about on the interview that we'll release with him on August 6th.
Is that even in the state of Washington, which is very progressive and environmentally oriented, they went to do a carbon tax on gasoline. And it was only going to be like 13 cents a gallon.
Right. And as Dennis says, you could drive down from one end, this town to the other, and you'll find 13 cents difference in gasoline. So it's not like it was going to be a, a huge amount of money that people are going to have to pay extra, but they voted it down.
I know, nobody, agrees with me.
It was voted down twice because people, you know, people are struggling, right?
Most people are having a hard time getting by and that's totally understandable. Well, it's, it's horrible. And there's other things we could discuss them. But the fact is that people are, are, are struggling right. And paying extra for gasoline or anything is kind of out of the question and okay, let's take that as a basic fact for a second. Right?
So most people know what Tesla, Tesla has been incredible in the job they've done and what they've, how they've advanced the technology, how they've really pushed every other manufacturer in the world to start moving on electric vehicles and
So it's not just Tesla anymore.
There are 45 different models of electric vehicles that are out there today. And every major manufacturer, if you have whatever your particular brand of vehicle is that you like, you like, Ford's you like, Chevy's you like, Toyota's Honda's you like BMWs Mercedes on the high end Porsche's everyone has an electric vehicle option.
Now, number one, number two is there's tax credits that help bring the prices down. Number three, this is also usually incentives either on a state or utility basis.
You've got to take a look at care. So first you can figure out a way to get that price. The prices of electric vehicles have come down just like on prices of cell phones have come down because it's state technology. And that trend is continuing. The battery prices are coming down. That was the most expensive component of electric cars.
The prices are coming down. So it's getting to the point in many States where you can get an electric vehicle cheaper than you can get a gas vehicle because you get the tax credits, you get the state incentives. That's the first piece.
The next piece is, again, you can also finance and you get leases and you wind up at those leases. If you have the right company or the right leasing company can also save you money compared to an electric vehicle compared to a gas vehicle.
But then the fascinating thing is, is if you take a look at your electricity rate and what it takes to charge an electric car, versus how much you pay for gas, it's a half to two thirds, less to go per mile on an electric car compared to a gas car. Oh, but I'm worried about what an out a charge.
What happens if I run out of charge, there's no charging stations near me is kind of the standard refrain. Right? I don't have a charging station. What happens if I
That's what I was going to ask you?
There we go. Right? So that's a standard question. So the fascinating thing is this. And let me, let me ask you, because I'll see if you, one of the 98% of Americans who 98% of our trips are less than a hundred miles in a day. How much do you drive in today?
No, I'm one of the Americans that drives a ton, which is rising. That I would change MORE for gas. Well, the last school I worked at was over 45 miles. Yeah.
So that's 90 miles round trip. Yup. Go ahead. So 90 miles, that's a hundred. All right. So you're at a hundred. Go ahead. Much more than that. Whereas it a hundred miles a day.
Yeah. I mean, it just depends on my, but yeah, when I drive, I mean, I drive a lot, like the nearest town is 60 miles. I mean the closest, well, like if I was going to go shopping, Whitefish is 45 miles. Kalispell is 60.
Okay. So you're basically a hundred, a hundred or 150 miles is kind of your range of where you got to go. Right?
Yeah. I think I would say I probably drive 350 miles a week. Easy.
Yeah. It's okay. But on any particular day, it's somewhere between a hundred and 150 miles, right? Yeah. So you could get a Chevy bolt or a Nissan leaf or a number of other vehicles that go 225 miles on a charge.
You can plug it into your house in your garage, or just run an extension cord out to wherever your vehicle is parked.
You don't have to deal with charging stations. You don't have to worry about anything else. All you do is you're charging your house and you don't have to go to a gas station ever again for that car. You don't have to go for an oil change ever again for that car, you have 20 moving parts.
And if you had an opportunity to charge at work, you could do that too. And that's a lot. That's the next piece.
So when you take a look at charging, what people haven't yet is that first, if you're charging overnight at home, that does 98% of most people's trips, 98% of their needs can be met by just plugging into a regular wall socket at home.
You want to go a little bit faster. You get like you do an electric stove or electric dryer. You get a two 20 volt into your house. And now you're charging it two to three times faster speeds. So you get even more power at your home. All right. Where's the second most place that people go to is they go to work. A lot of people commute, a lot of people go to various places.
So you want to get a charging station at work. That would be great. That would be fantastic, right? It's a nice benefit for employees. It makes the environmental jump. It's a great place.
If I think you're a school teacher, right? So it's great to have a place at school where people can go charge their vehicles, either leave it plugged in and have a slow charge during the day while they're working or a faster charge that they can go hook up.
And in a short period of time, they get full charge if they need it. But the fascinating thing to me is that 98% of our trips are less than a hundred miles. So even you at 150 miles, if you just had an electric car and you plugged it into your garage, into a wall socket, you did your daily trips, except the 2% of the time, you wouldn't have to worry about it.
And yes, 2% of the time they have to deal with it. But many people have two vehicles. You guys got two vehicles. Oh yeah, there you go. So my, my, my first step that I encourage people to think about is how about if you took one of those vehicles, just one as a simple step and made it electric and just do your trips that are less than 200 miles with that vehicle, you would wipe out a lot of your gas costs.
You would wipe out all that time. You're wasting at a gas station and the oil changes and you would save money while you're doing it. And if you take a look at the total cost, you'll save money on total cost and you can do it today. You don't have to wait for the charging stations.
Do you buy a computer today? Or do you wait until next year when it's going to be better, you figure it out. But if you care about the environment and you care about the impact you're having, and you care about the dollars that you're spending, gosh, here's a step, take one of those cars, get in an electric vehicle.
You can get a used electric vehicle now that are even more reasonable, right? So there's lots of different ways of people doing things that they just haven't. We haven't quite realized yet. And that's the idea behind the show is to give people these little bursts, we call them little pulse ares of enlightenment, about opportunities and things that they could take advantage of that they may not have realized before and give you the ability to become empowered.
So you can take your next step, whatever that might be.
Okay. How about like a low end option? So we've talked about two fairly high end changes. Do you have like a low end change? Like something on cost, less than a hundred dollars that somebody could do today?
Sure. So first thing is lighting, right? So you take a look at those light bulbs in your house. And if you have incandescent light bulbs, 90% of that light is, is being wasted as heat. So those expensive light bulbs take a look around, find a quality manufacturer, realize that you're going to make up that money that you spend extra for that light bulb.
So take a regular light bulb and times it by 10, because that's what you'll spend for the same period of time and get a light emitting diode, and LED light bulb and turn out your lights.
It's simple. It's easy. It's the first step lighting is a very simple, simple thing to do. So that's the first step.
And like they don't make, are they still making those ones that have like, like I remember in the beginning, they all had that mercury in them and then you couldn't throw them in the garbage. And there was that like, they've kind of gotten away from that.
Correct. Yes, indeed. Yeah. So that was what compact fluorescent light bulbs with did have mercury issues.
But yeah, they were problematic and now we've taken the next step with the LEDs. So the LEDs are much better.
Can you explain like the led thing? Like I said, cause I go to get a light bulb and I swear I stand there and I'm just like, which one am I supposed to buy? Like, do you have like any kind of like info?
I have some, and there's other sources that are, that are, you know, we'll, we'll direct people to on the show.
What we're looking at to do is have people, like you say, look, this is my quandary. I walked into a store. I don't know which light bulb can you help us and we'll dive into it and we'll do some various different explorations and we'll have various different people tell you what you can do.
Part of it depends upon what you're doing.
You know? So there's lots of little things that, you know, to think a little bit about, but it's not as complicated as we think, and there's a way to get through it.
I mean, we're not here. We don't have all the answers, we've got a good number of them, but what we're really here to do is help people understand that there are answers and solutions and help them figure out for themselves and their particular situations, what the options are and how best to move forward with it.
You're like I'm looking out my window and looking at it, like our little beehive area that Mike has an electric fence. And like, maybe that might even be a good place for people to start, because I know a lot of farmers have like solar panels on like electric fencing.
Like that's where like maybe would be a good first step for people too, to just do like one little, like, is that, what do you know? Do you know anything?
Absolutely. Yeah. No, that makes total sense.
So, so, you know, take a look and segment out your different areas of usage on electricity in Montana with a fence and electric fence. Gosh. Yeah. Why wouldn't you want to do that, right.
I mean, you know, you'll hook up a little solar panel with a battery it's low voltage, it's 12 volt anyway, and you could power it all up with solar very easily.
So that's a great step for Montana.
If you or your brother on long Island and gardens or your mom in garden city or wherever, you know, their solution is going to be a little bit different, but there are pieces that you can take to make a little bit of an impact here, a little bit of an impact there.
So for instance, in, in places in New York and 25 different States, there are these community solar opportunities. Now.
So the community solar piece is just, do you guys have energy service companies and different competitive electric suppliers out in Montana in your area?
I forget whether you're a vertically integrated utility on that. So,
We have a lot of co-ops I don't, I don't know other than that.
Okay. That's all right. Yeah. So, so, so electric is the utilities. There are different depending upon the state and the utility territory co-ops are great by the way.
Oh my gosh. We are so lucky. I got to say, I mean, we have great service. We have belonging to a Co-0p and then you get your little capital credits check and just, we're very fortunate. I love having a co op.
Yeah, it's great. And the wonderful thing about a co op is that you, as a member now have the ability to also help educate and empower and decide how the co op goes and what their steps are going to be with this next evolution of the electricity generation. Right?
So to give you a sense, right? You know, people again, think solar is really expensive. Well, the latest price for a bid for solar, with batteries. So it's solar on demand. So the sunshine's, you are charging a batteries and you're delivering electricity when the sun is charging.
But as most people know, you know, the sun doesn't go all night long and during the winter, there's not a lot of sun.
So you got to have battery stores that get built into it. So when you take a look at solar, the fascinating thing is that the latest bid for solar, with battery storage.
Solar on the man in California was three and a half cents a kilowatt hour. I'll bet, even in Montana where you have a great co-op, you're paying somewhere, probably triple that, right. 10 cents per kwhour
I imagine, I don't know, but I know it's more than
Exactly. And so that's the thing is that these opportunities are now coming up. And if you have the co-op ability to do stuff to scale for all of the cohort members, now it's something to really take a serious look at to get the co op thinking about:
And if you work on it, if you look at it, you figure it out, it can be done.
And do you have for your community? I mean, I think you've, you've shared a lot of people's minds are starting to think, wow, I never thought about that. Like to my community go in and we could go in together and make this possible. And then, so not only are we changing our house, but we're changing other houses in our neighborhoods and what was I gonna say?
Oh, well, one thing in Montana, like there was, while you can pay extra to have green energy on your phone bill and like we would, they would get it, I think from the wind over on the East side, because there's certainly a lot of wind and wind farms coming up in Montana. So that's another option we have here.
Yeah. I mean, again, it's the power of the air, water, earth and sun. And there's various different ways of tapping into that. And with the air wind power is now also one of the most cost effective ways of dealing with everything.
And when you combine wind with solar, the nice part is they're complimentary.
So usually the wind is blowing harder when there's not as much sun when there's a storm or at night and the sun, when it's shining, there's a little less wind. So they're nice complimentary resources.
And if you systematically take a look at it, there's a way, especially if you have a co op and you can do stuff in bulk around the country, there's now what's called community choice aggregation.
So it's kind of like a coal camp, but it's not quite because you keep the same distribution, utility distributing your electricity, but you're coming together as a community to do stuff all together. And when we do stuff all together, the numbers just get so much better because you're doing it in aggregate.
You're doing it in bulk and you just driving the prices down. Could I just take one minute? I'll be right back. Okay. Yeah. That's perfect. Yeah. Great. Give me one minute. Okay. Thanks.
What was I going to? Oh, I'm looking at my phone bill. I mean our electric bill, I don't really know what that show our kilowatt per hour. KWH charge is five, five to 6 cents a kilowatt, but then there's something called the demand charge. That's a dollar 75 per kilowatt. We have, we, I mean, there's like 633 kilowatts of that and only four kilowatts of the dollar 75 one.
Yeah. So, so what it is is every utility is a little bit different. It's very complicated and it just makes people's heads explode when they look at it. So just, you know, just, just to let you know, that's part of what, you know, it's a, it's complicated and why people get shut down because their head starts spinning once they start looking at this stuff.
So in electric utilities, you have a class that's called a demand meter and a demand meter. What they do is, and it's, it's in New York and elsewhere, it's really usually for commercial, but at some places it's also residential.
And the idea behind it, the demand meter, or is this is that you use so many kilowatt hours over time. So the kilowatt hour piece is kilowatts over hours.
In your case with a demand charge that demand charge, depending on the utility is how much energy you use at any one point in time. Usually for 15 minutes, depending upon the utility, some utilities it's, whatever your peak period of energy is in 15 minutes during the month for some utilities, it's whatever 15 minute peak you had for the whole year.
So for instance, let's say that you are doing your normal stuff. And one day though you have all your power equipment going. That power equipment now takes your four kilowatt hours or whatever your normal kilowatt hour kilowatts per hour are. And now it bumps it.
So in that 15 minute period, you turn on all your power equipment and your lights are on your air conditioning's on your, your, your appliances of going. And now you boost that KW your kilowatts to one peak, that peak price is what you pay either for the whole month or in some utilities. You pay that price for the whole year.
If everybody needs it on the hottest summer days, everyone turns on their air conditioners, they have to deliver it. So whatever that peak is, they have to have that peak demand. They have to supply it. Otherwise you get the grid failures and the blackouts and all the other things that nasty things that happened.
So that's why that demand piece is very important. In States like New York, that demand piece costs consumers $2 billion a year for just 24 hours worth of peak demand service.
So it is a day or two where everybody is hot and they're turning on air conditioners, and they hit that peak. And because the utilities have to have that spare power to be able to bring in so that they don't have a blackout, it costs billions of dollars.
So you have to take a look at how do you manage that demand. So what you want to do is kind of, you know, most, most businesses know this. They stagger how they phase in their air conditioners and their other equipment so that they don't hit that peak. So you keep your peak down.
There's, there's now a software that can help people do that. That will help keep that peak down. So it's an energy management system that helps them identify where they are in the peak and how they're phasing things in. And they're a little more conscious of stuff.
There's a bunch of different approaches to that. There's also battery storage with you would have solar and battery storage. If you use that solar and battery storage so that you can keep the peak down.
So there's a bunch of different approaches to deal with that particular issue.
But even in your case, you're looking at a kilowatt hour rate, that's five to 6 cents. If you were to call up and you were able to build a big solar system for your whole community, with battery storage, you would be able to knock that price down pretty significantly, at least 20%.
So there's a way, you know, for people to do this, that could really
And if you combine it with solar and wind again, you get some added benefits to,
Yeah, I know that one thing I was going to say is like, we used to have solar panels before we put our well and, and electricity into the house and stuff. And like, there were only three weeks in December, out of the whole year here in Montana that we had to use a backup generator. And the rest of the time, those solar panels powered the house just fine. And that was 25 years ago.
Yeah. I mean, it's kind of amazing, you know, and again, the technology has evolved, so you're getting more, more per square foot. Yeah, exactly.
Yeah. Okay. All right. So we touched on two of the aspects of, of energy, electricity and transportation cars, the third piece, which is again, depending on where you are about a third of the greenhouse gases we have met and
And the fascinating thing with this is that there are now technologies, which we've had for a long time, but we didn't even realize that they were there. But I almost guarantee that pretty much everybody listening to this podcast has a heat pump in their home and probably in their workplaces as well.
Oh, I was just going to ask what's a heat pump, like the water heater?
Nope. Maybe could be, but no, I'm not, not usually everybody has a heat pump because if you have a refrigerator or freezer, you have a type of heat pump.
And what a heat pump does is it compresses and expands of fluid and it takes the heat out of wherever it is.
So when you have a refrigerator or freezer, you're actually taking the heat out of your refrigerator and freezer, and then you're dumping it into the air, through those coils that are in back of the back of your refrigerator and freezer.
I'm sitting here going, why didn't we build a fire this morning?
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Yeah. I kinda thought, well, right.
1 (59m 14s):
No air conditioner. I can barely, like last year I got a tent so I could sleep outside and not one night. Did I make it through the night without coming in cause I was so cold.
Even like a 90 degree day. I always tell people if you're coming to Montana and bring a wool hat and wool socks if you're camping.
Yeah. There you go. Yeah. I mean, you know, again, I don't know. It's good. No, it's different parts of the country have different things too. So in most parts of the country, heating is a, is a big thing. In many parts of the country during the summers, it's getting really hot. And as we continue to have these, you know, as we continue along the path, we're heading with greenhouse gases, you're going to see more extreme temperature swings.
And that's something to really keep an eye on because it gets really hot sometimes. And it's going to get really cold sometimes because we're setting in place, we've disrupted the weather with this up to this very complex system.
And we're getting these big swings, extreme weather events. Okay. Give you that as it may. So a heat pump, an air conditioner is a heat pump. And even though you don't have one in need one way you are, or maybe you would like to have one, sometimes many people do have air conditioners and that's a type of heat pump.
Again, it's compressing and expanding fluids and or gases. And then it's taking heat usually out of a space, which is the air conditioning part and putting it somewhere else.
Fascinating thing about heating ventilation and air conditioning systems or HVAC is that with moving air and in these days of COVID now that moving air becomes really important because what we want to do is filter it.
So a simple way, for people who do have central heating systems with air central air heating systems or central air conditioning systems or any type of air conditioning system, is to change the filters. Cause when you don't change the filters, what happens is that they get clogged.
They're not only a source of increased energy usage because your system is fighting to push through those clogs and the bands. But in addition, it's also a source of microbial and bacterial buildup and it can become really nasty.
And there's a whole host of different illnesses that come out of not having a good HVAC heating ventilation air conditioning system with soft flowing, and as a way to actually tap into that and use technologies that would help take COVID and other nasty things out of the air.
So something to think about, and that's part of what we'll, we'll talk about on the show at various different points when people have interesting questions about that, but looking at air conditioning systems, there's these heat pumps, which are air conditioners, but instead of just producing cool, taking heat out of a space and giving cool air in a space in the winter, it reverses and it takes heat out of the air and puts it into a space.
What it is, is like a central air conditioner, or even they have smaller ones which are called mini splits that many people use for just particular rooms that they want to add heating or air conditioning to.
So they have smaller units that basically can go into a space, goes usually up on, up on a ceiling or on the floor as a baseboard unit, usually is up a little bit higher. So it's, it blows down and you can have the air conditioning and heating.
It used to be that most people and most contractors still think that, "Oh, well, that's good. It was good down in Florida. It's good down to like 30 degrees. But you know, if you're going down to minus 15, this technology doesn't work"
And now there are cold climate as source heat pumps, where instead of an air conditioner, if you go to a cold climate air source heat pump, not only can you get the air conditioning, but you can get the heat too
And it's something to really strongly consider the next phase beyond air source. Heat pumps are ground source, heat pumps, and ground source people, heat pumps.
Many people have heard about as geothermal.
I am. And Patty Armbrister was just over here looking at geothermal greenhouses, which I think is something my listeners are probably interested in.
Yeah. So geothermal is really fascinating, right? So it's a technology that started really thousands of years ago with just the concept that boy, if we dig into the earth and we go down below the frost line, the temperature there is pretty constant.
And the Anasazi Indians actually did it by building into mountains, right? They would build into a mountain. They let the sunlight heat certain spaces and let the movement of the sun then cool certain spaces.
But they realized that the temperature inside a cave is pretty constant.
So, okay. So wait, I got, if I dig a hole and I put a tube down there and I just throw 'em, let's say it's a closed loop. And that's one of the things that have evolved to with geothermal is having closed loops.
So what that means is you have a fluid, usually water, you push the water down, you bring the water back up, it goes down at whatever temperature it comes back at the 55 degrees.
Now you have 55 degrees that you can use the coil, blow up, blow some air across. And now you got 55 degrees cooling down some space.
Or if you add the air source heat pumps to this 55 degrees, whatever the temperature is outside. Now you have 55 degrees temperature that you can compress and expand that fluid and have a, a heat pump, then build, pump that up to 70 degrees or wherever a temperature you're comfortable at.
And now you're only going 15 degrees up as opposed to zero or minuses up to 70 degrees. So now you're saving a lot of energy.
Just to give you a sense of what's possible, which to me, one of the examples that blew me away was okay, geothermal, great. You could do it simple.
You can do it yourself, which is dig a hole, put a pipe down, let that pipe either push some air down and bring it back cool or hot, or put some fluid down and do the compression and expansion.
And I was amazed that in Manhattan, New York city, you've heard of that. A place called the St. Patrick's Cathedral?
Yeah, of course.
Right? St. Patrick's Cathedral a couple of years ago, their heating systems were going, they needed to do something. They have historical property constraints. There's only so much space because it's in Manhattan. You know, then they can't go that much places.
And what they found was that the least expensive source of heating and cooling for them was to do geothermal and they drilled holes 2000 feet down under st. Patrick's cathedral grabbed that heating and cooling.
They saved millions of dollars on their upfront capital costs. And they're saving 30% on their energy costs by going to geothermal.
That's awesome. What a great example!
Right? And then everybody has, you know, different situations, but fascinating enough is that if you're doing office buildings, you can now go down under the square footage of any building, whether it's a residential building or an office building or whatever.
Under the square footage of that building, if you go down 500 feet and you drill geothermal holes and you have to space them out and there's some science behind it and some engineering behind it, but the technology has advanced to the point with those 500 foot holes, which in New York is where you can go.
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That's a far down, you can go before you have to get special permits and stuff.
So St. Pat's had to get special permits and they were in Manhattan, which of course you can imagine the permits that go down on the ground and say in Manhattan, but anyway, they still did it.
But in New York and elsewhere, you can usually go down 500 feet without anybody, you know, with any, any major permits under a new building square footage, go down 500 feet.
And that geothermal system with just the holes under the building. So you have a new building. You clear the feet, you clear the area, you drill holes under the building.
You put in the foundation, you build your building up, but now you have these geothermal holes that are supplying your heat, your air conditioning, your hot water, and that 500 foot under the building will carry loads will carry a building up to 30 stories.
And they're doing this in Toronto, they're doing this across the country and the world. It makes so much sense.
Wow. I, don't why I thought for some reason, like the pipe, when you drilled, it had to like go out. And for some reason, like you had to have this you'd space. So this is fascinating that you can just go straight down under a building. I don't know where I got that impression from.
Yeah, no, no. That's the way a lot of people did it. And that definitely was that's another approach to do it. So if you do have a lot of space and you want to do it that way, and actually, you know, for some people, I had a friend in in Ithaca, New York or Cornell Cornell friend who actually had a farm.
And what he did was he did something similar where he would use that he would, he had dug a geothermal field and as part of that field to use it as part of his heating and for his planting.
So he was able to then tie it into a greenhouse by going down and using that heat, just like you're talking about, he actually added his compost and because the compost gets hot, he was able to take the heat out of the compost and use that in a greenhouse, which is another added level of opportunity for, for various folks that are composting and doing the kind of gardening things that you are doing.
But yes, that's another approach you could do horizontal wells. So you could do vertical Wells for people who have constrained space.
And again, you could go up to a 30 story building, which is what they're doing at Toronto, and they have massive amounts of construction going on, and they're all large multifamily, multifamily, mixed use with offices, et cetera.
They're going down and supporting that to 30 stories.
And there's a third party in Toronto that is funded by the pension funds and those pension funds, fund this geothermal work. So they'll put it in the system for free, and then you'll just pay them over time for the energy as it's being delivered.
So there's a lot of innovative financial models that are coming up too, that are really great to explore that you might be able to do depending upon where you are and what type of system you're putting in.
Well, Ron, I love all of this. I'm like the project that they want to put in around here. That to me, just keeps light bulbs, keep going off is, the school. They want to build a new school! And they want to build a new school that we're going to be paying taxes on until 2040.
And to me, it's like, we're going to build a new school. That's great. I'm all for building a new school! But we should be building the best, most environmentally-friendly school. We don't want to build a school that when we're funded on paying for in 2040 is going to be obviously, and that's what my husband and I keep saying is they should be thinking about, and I'm sure, you know, they're already having a problem.
But the problem I don't think is the taxpayers. Like they, they want to build a $14 million building or an $18 million building. I think most taxpayers would want the $18 million building. They could even get an, a being more if it was going to be, you know, sustainable and environmentally friendly, but just there, they have a PR problem, I think is their biggest problem.
But like, this would be like the kind of things that I would like to bring to the school board meetings. And so I'm bringing this up because listeners, maybe they're building a school in your town, maybe they're building, you know, maybe they're building community buildings in your town that are going up, that you might, well, this doesn't apply to me, but maybe it applies to your community that way it was someplace you want to get involved.
And maybe you're on the school board. I don't know. You know, there's plenty of people out there that are on their school boards.
Yeah, absolutely. And that's, and that's part of this too. Right? So part of it is what:
And schools are a great example of communities. And you know, the fascinating thing with these technologies is that you can do them a lot of times, especially if you're doing a multimillion dollar school construction project where your local guys may or may not know how to deal with this and they may put poo in, but I'll tell you, you know, there's examples all across the country of people that are realizing that they can do this.
They can identify third parties who will put up the capital. So it won't even cost them any money and capital necessarily. Oh, of course, I'm very little in capital costs and their operating savings will pay for that investment over a long period of time.
That geothermal heating and cooling systems that we're talking about, the, the pipes have guaranteed for 50 years. They'll last over a hundred years. It's the same piping technology that the natural gas industry uses to move gas around.
This is long term, I mean, you're building a building, that's a longterm investment for 20, 30, 50 years, right. That you want to make sure is well taken care of. And that has good longevity and is sustainable.
So you could save a pile of money. You can find out some funding sources.
And the fascinating thing to me is that again, when you combine solar or solar and wind with heating, geothermal heating and in particular, but any kind of heat pump system, now you have a clean electricity.
It's a great way to save money. And when you then end the next piece of transportation and you take a look, well, how many people are driving to school? How many teachers
School buses are out there polluting our planet. This is one district where there were over a dozen buses and they'd be lined up and they'd be started running out there 20 minutes before the school got out and there.
And it was just like, so stinky walking the kids out there to wind them up. And it just drove me crazy. But Ron, we got to go, this is a pleasure, your website and your podcast. And it's launching August 6th.
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And all I could say is, look, people, we are a force of nature. We can accept that or not. If we don't, we'll continue heading to where we're going. If we do accept it. And we realize that we are a force of nature ourselves, we can tap into power beyond our imagination, we can have a tremendous impact.
We can save ourselves and civilization have a great potential future for our kids. I have a great impact on the earth. So looking forward to hopefully talking to you guys in the future, have a great day. Thanks so much.
Thanks, Jackie. Okay.
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